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Perth on the Tay
Chapter 24


"November's sky is chill and drear,
November's leaf is red and sere;
Late gazing down the steepy linn,
That hems our little garden in."
—Scott.

ONE letter from Phemie had been received at Sandy's and one from them had gone to her. The voyage was safely and pleasantly made; she had only just landed, and had not much to tell of Scotland, for she had not yet seen much ; the next letter would be like a tourist's guide book, so full would it be of sights seen and to see. Rob had gone back to the shanties; the McAlpins were yet in Montreal, all of course save Douglas, who was still alone, managing the farm, Pat. Copeland's wife making the butter for him and baking the bread. Before going away Rob had taken his mother over to see Douglas,—Sandy was over now three or four times a day,—and with very little said, friendly relations between them were soon established, and Rob went away feeling that he had done what he could.

And the people from the "Dine" came over, now the last of the crop was in, partly to hear about "Taranta, an' th' doin's in Parleement," and partly through a neighborly desire to show their sympathy in the trouble that had fallen on Jamie's family.

"Th' auld chief's doon again," said Jamie Taylor, at one of these gatherings.

"Ay, he'll be a pretty mon yon,'' Peter McPherson said; "aiblins he'll no' be a saft chiel tae deal wi'."

"He wull no'," said Jamie McLaren; "I'll peety th' lads wha cam' oot wi' 'm."

"I'll no' min'," said Alex. McEarlane, "juist hoo he got 's laun."

"I'll no ken a' th' way o' 't mysel'," said Peter McPherson; "aiblins it'll begun this way: he'll got a toonship frae th' Guverment, whilk he could get nae money oot o', lest soom fule bodies 'd coom an' wrought on 't f'r him; weel he coom awa' oot wi' maybe thretty or mair families, whilk he took to be fule bodies 'til they got here, 'n whiles he'll foond oot he'll be th' fule body himsel', f'r they'd na stay wi' 'm."

"Did he no' want tae cairry on th' auld ways oop yon?" asked Jamie Taylor.

"He'll did that," replied Peter McPherson; "he'll wanted tithes o' everything, gin a hauf 'd no' dae 'm, he'd tak' a'; 'n he'd drive intil a mon's yaird wi' 's gillies, tak' th' last wisp o' straw frae th' rick, 'r happen th' ony coo in th' byre, an' awa' wi' 't; syne th' lads foond oot 'at they didna hae tae min' MacNab's, he ca'd himsel'; soom gaed awa' tae ither townships, an' soom juist defied 'm on th' laun th' Guverment gie 'm. He'll be doon noo at th' coort."

"He'll happen be nane sae guid a mon t' hae dealin's wi," said Jamie Taylor; "aiblins 't 'ill brichten oop th' toon tae hae th' tartan coom intil 't." "It will that," Jamie McLaren said; "th' last time we'll saw 't, ony on a lane chiel 'r twa, 's at Quebec when th' auld Dorothy cam' in, an' thae lads were celebrating th' veectory at Waterloo; mon, thae lads stepped brawly."

"I'll whiles weary for yon chiels in th' kilts," said Alex. McFarlane; "aiblins a fairm 'n hoose o' 's ain 'll mak' oop f'r mair than men in petticoaties t' ae mon."

"Did ye iver see yon oop by 't Taranta, Douglas?" asked John Holliday.

"I did," answered Douglas; "afore th' wing o' yon Parleement was burned, th'll be oop twa times a week mairchin'; th' was wild times in th' rebellion an' thae lads was needed; I'll seen where they'll throwed Mackenzie's type intil th' river; they'll said he was a rebel, 'n 't hurted 'm sair; he'll said nae Scot was e'er a rebel."

"Ribel, is't? shure ye're all ribels, ivery mother's sou o' ye," said Michael Doyle, from the "Ninth;" "what's to hinder ye lettin' the Quane app'int the min she thinks most av to be mindin' things up beyant there, an' doin' it quiet and dacent like, an' lavin' thim in whin they're knowin' where things is; shure no business man wid anny since in his head 'll be after changin' his clerks ivery time the moon changes."

"Noo, Peter,"said Alex. McFarlane, "hae I'll no' been telling ye 'at thae 's no sic sinfu' chiels 's th're makin' oot."

Alexander was often sat on by some of the other Settlers on the Line, therefore unexpected assistance from the Ninth was appreciated.

"Th'll be twa sides tae ilka question," Douglas said. "Malcolm Cameron gied me an inveetation t' gang oop tae th' Hoose 'n hear a' th' big men at thae deebates, an' ane side 'll tell as guid a story 's th' ither."

"'N th'll be no' so bad men tae meet," Jamie Taylor said. " I'll hae seen Jonas Jones yonner at Brockville mysel', 'n he's a saft-spoken lad eneuch; 'n gin ye'll think o't, 't 'll be no' so easy makin' laws f'r a new coontry."

"It'll no' be th' men a'thegither," Peter McPherson said; "an' no' that th' hasna been soom vera guid laws made; aiblins th's no' mair 'n twal' o' thae lads has th' hail o' the Ooper Proveence."

"It's th' pickin's ye're wantin', Payther," said Michael. "I'm thinkin', shud ye be thrampin' alang th' road, kickin' up th' dust wid yer toes, an' the Quane 'd come by, an' shtop, an' ax ye this: "Oi'm lookin' fer a broth av a boy till sit on the lid av the box av goold beyant at muddy Yorrk; Oi'm not nadin' anny great shakes, an' there's afther bein' a crack in the lid where—so 's he shuddent get lonesome—he cud pick out a few coppers, now an' agin —nobody'll meddle him, shure he cud shtay till he died and fell off'—ye'd be sayin', 'There's a foine bye down the road there, Payther McPherson's his name; ye moight thry him '."

"Weel dune, Mike," said Jamie McLaren, when the laugh had subsided; "ye'd mak a better Reform campaigner than Malcolm himsel'."

"Things 'll no' be settled in a meenute," Sandy McGregor said; "we'll want tae govern th' coontry oorsels. We'll cam awa' ower here because ae bit o' laun was ta'en oop in th' auld coontry; gin we'd stayed there a hunner years, we'll had nae mair 'n a leevin' frae haun till mou'. The laun here suld belang to nane 'less he cooms an' tills it. Th' coontry suld ony be governed by men wha hae a working interest in her------"

"'Deed so," broke in Peter McPherson, " we'll micht juist as weel stayed i' th' auld laun, where we's acquaint—gin we'll hae tae tak things th' same way—'s tae coom awa ower the sea tae a wild woods, wi' bears wantin' to share yer pot o' suppon, wolves 'n wolverines dividin' oop wi' themsel's yer cattle in th' byre; minks, 'n weasels, 'n hawks, tae say naething o' foxes, haeing a Christmas a' th' year roun' on yer poultry; th' black flies 'n mosquitoes drawin' hauf th' bluid in yer body; an' whiles ye'll be shakin' wi' ague till ye'll near fa' intae bits."

"Yon's th' truth o't, Peter," Sandy McGregor said; "it's the mon wha haunels th' axe 'n th' pleugh, th' hammer 'n th' loom, wha kens mair things 'n killin' ither men 'r mixin' rum punches, 't 'll be needed tae mak Canada haud her ain wi' th' States ower yon. I'll no' care a stiver mysel' if the mon wha hauds th' strings ca's himsel' a Reformer or a Tory; gin so be we dinna like 'm, we'll can pit 'm oot."

"Ay, th'll hae tae be twa pairties, ane tae watch th' ither, an' what ane dinna ken th' ither wull; ane 'll be stirrin' th' ither oop in th' debates, an' we'll fin' oot a' th' guid there is 'n can pick oot th' th' best o't tae use."

"Whiles ye was speaking o' ague, Peter, it'll minded me o' th' time William Rutherford 'll had it," said Alex. McFarlane. "We'll nane o's kenned what iver could be the maitter wi'm. We was pit-tin oop the auld kirk; he was haudin' ane end o' a log; a' at aince he'll said,' Lads, I'll feel queer like, I'll must git doon.' ' Tut, mon!' says ane, ' haud on till yer log till we'll get it oop.' ' I'll canna haud on,' says he; wi' that he fell a shakin', his face was whiter 'n the snaw 'n his lips drawn tight ower 's teeth. Losh! we'll thocht he's gane; we'll took him doon till th' blacksmith's shop—th' nearest place by—'n laid 'm on th' flure, an' ane tauld ane thing, anither tauld summat else: we'll gied 'm aething 'twas said, e'en tae gunpooder. Dr. Thorn 'll get doon juist in time till stop 's frae gieing 'm maitches on top o't."

They all laughed at the recollection, William being still hearty; twenty years after, the humorous side could be appreciated.

"Ay, we's lucky in oor hoose thae times— Leeby 'd shake ane day, 'n me th' next. I'll seen ilka ane in your hoose, Jamie McLaren, a' shaking at aince."

"We was that," Jamie said; "I'll seen 's when the's no' ane o's could haud a stick till pit 't on th' fire f'r shakin'; then the fever 'd begin, 'n ye'll no' could tell whilk 's th' waur."


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